|Title:||Adaptive Water Management in the Lake Chad Basin: Addressing Current Challenges and Adapting to Future Needs|
|Time:||09:00 - 12:30|
|Convenor:||Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)|
Led by the conviction that there cannot be much water saving from efficient management only, due to the high evaporation, a call was made for the adoption of measures beyond the convention of the available water resources in the basin. The supply management has, however, been dominating while less attention has been given to demand management. The combination of both as well as the introduction of emergent measures that respond to the global cause of the problem is, therefore, needed within an adaptive framework to save the Lake.
The seminar will address the current challenges in the basin and will explore opportunities for an Adaptive Water Management and possible future strategies to be adopted to replenish the lake and to safeguard its surrounding livelihood. The seminar will contribute to the effort of formulation of adaptation plans together with a clear basin action plan. It will help the capitalisation of enough knowledge to respond to the current and future challenges in the Basin, and also the call for larger commitments and contributions from the international community to save the lake.
Chair: Mr. Abdullahi Umaru Ganduje, Executive Secretary, LCBC
Event Summary and Conclusions
The seminar “Adaptive Water Management in the Lake Chad Basin: Addressing Current Challenges and Adapting to Future Needs”, convened by the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), took place as part of the World Water Week 09 in Stockholm which put a special focus on transboundary waters, with sessions on the Jordan, Tigris–Euphrates, Nile, Zambezi and Mekong rivers and Lake Chad Basin. It was attended by more than 50 participants representing riparian countries, donors and other institutes.
The seminar addressed the current challenges in the Basin and explored opportunities for an Adaptive Water Management and possible future strategies to be adopted to replenish the Lake and to safeguard surrounding livelihoods.
The shrinkage of Lake Chad is a tale of woe. The open water surface of Lake Chad has reduced from approximately 25 000 km² in 1963, to less than 2 000 km² in the 1990s heavily impacting the Basin’s economic activities and food security. The shrinkage of the lake has been driven by both global and local causes: climate change and vastly increased competing demands on the lake and its surrounding land have accelerated its shrinkage over the past years.
Led by the conviction that there cannot be much water saving from efficient management only, due to the high evaporation, a call was made for the adoption of measures beyond the convention of the available water resources in the Basin. The supply management has, however, been dominating while less attention has been given to demand management. The combination of both as well as the introduction of emergent measures that respond to the global cause of the problem is, therefore, needed within an adaptive framework to save the Lake.
The seminar concluded that adaptation is important to the Lake Chad current situation. As reported in the LCBC Vision 2025, based on an analysis of the current situation and challenges to integrated management of the basin’s natural resources, identified the causes of the current environmental degradation to be mainly global climate change, unsustainable decisions, lack of good policy and political will on the part of member states, poor coordination mechanisms, poverty and fragile economic situation of the region.
The effect of climate change, coupled with several anthropogenic effects, is considered as one of the main causes of the severe depletion of the Lake. Inadequate observation of climatic data limits the regional diagnostic analysis and the dearth of information on climatic change forecasting hinders the capability to detect the negative effects of climate change on non adapted human communities.
Therefore, it is urgent to enhance the traditional climate change adaptation strategies already put in place in the Lake Chad Basin through the development of effective climate predictability systems and broad integrated programmes to observe, predict and model changes brought by climate.
Despite all analysis, it was, nonetheless, apparent that the causes of the shrinking of the Lake are multiple and still debatable. It was, thus, emphasized that there is still a need to better investigate the source of inflow into the lake and hence better identify the causes of the shrinking.
The common history of the countries sharing Lake Chad can be considered as a precious asset to foster the sustainable management of the basin. Successful experiences from other regions sharing similar challenges should be collected and used as examples and benchmarks. A common information system at basin level is thus crucially needed as well as a stocktaking of the consolidated knowledge. The information already available is massive but a great effort is to be carried out to help the uptake of the available knowledge.
The water transfer project, which aims at constructing a navigable channel using some inflows from the Oubangui to supply Lake Chad with water, will have multiple goals: to ensure river transportation in order to transfer goods from east to west across Africa; to produce electricity; and to develop irrigation and agro-industry in the region. Socio-economic and environmental benefits are also clearly demonstrated: extending and creating water supply; promotion of trade; and irrigation and agro-industry development.
The transfer project is an example of integration project in Africa: it will connect regions and even tribes beyond borders and frontiers. The principle of “benefit sharing” amongst the riparian countries appears to be the case that justifies the project.
However, the seminar stressed the importance to look at the water transfer as a solution to stabilize situation for food production/human needs/socio-economic needs and to anticipate progressive but reversible action to recover the lake and its surrounding livelihood. It also emphasized the need to conduct profound and detailed social and environmental impact assessment studies, particularly considering the negative impacts that the project could have on both the Lake Chad Basin and the Congo Basin. A concern was also expressed on how more open water bodies will increase the evaporation. In particular, attention should be paid to the final quality of the water that results from the mixing of the waters of the Lake Chad Basin and the Oubangui and the effect this will have on the ecosystems. There are also often public health impacts associated with water transfer canals that can serve as water-borne disease vectors as well as severe impacts on the socio-economic activities (fisheries, animal husbandry, agriculture, etc.). Moreover, the reduction in the flow of the Oubangui, as also a result of climate change, is of great concern to the riparian states when thinking about a possible transfer of part of such a volume of water into another basin.
Looking for a sustainable solution is vital – an example was made of the effect on the Inga. Because of this concern and since the degree of interdependency goes beyond the Lake Chad, there is a need for wider dialogue with the downstream basins before embarking on such an intervention.
The African leaders are strongly committed to saving Lake Chad and to enhance the adaptive and sustainable management of the natural resources and biodiversity of the Lake Chad Basin for the benefit of present and future generations. This political commitment has to be sustained and made as an agenda, thus assuring that good governance and, eventually, focused intervention will also be sustained. However, political commitment has necessarily to be accompanied by a strong participation of all stakeholders in decision making: the interests of all stakeholders have to be taken into consideration in a wide participatory process and grass-root mobilization has to be pursued.
Optimism for the lake is in short supply, but there is hope that the partnership between the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the FAO may bear fruit. At the FAO World Food Summit this autumn the dialogue continues, but this is a challenge that will require a great deal of solidarity and cooperation to resolve. Support and assistance from all development partners and indeed the international community is required to save Lake Chad: the conservation of the global value of the largest, freshwater reservoir in the Sahel region of Africa is a mission which is the role and responsibility of all.
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